Poem of the Day: Dulce Et Decorum Est

Content Warning: This poem contains violent descriptions.

I recently read the poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen, and found it a heartbreaking but realistic message of what war is like, especially the World Wars. Read it below!

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
– My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen was a soldier during World War I, and later in his life, he suffered from severe PTSD. This poem details the horrors of chemical agents used in the war- such as sulfur and mustard gas. Owen speaks in gruesome detail of how he watched one of his fellow soldiers die from breathing in this gas. At the end, he also rebukes the supporters of the war (and all wars), saying that they know nothing of what war is really like, and simply send young men off to their horrible deaths. He mocks the saying dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. This is a patriotic Latin saying, meaning it is sweet and honorable to die for your country.

-Vaidehi B.

Authors We Love: Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur Has Been Accused of Plagiarism: Did She Steal ...

Rupi Kaur is a Canadian-Indian poet known for her prose publications Milk and Honey, The Sun and her Flowers, and most recently, Home Body.

Born in Punjab, India, on 5th October 1992, Kaur immigrated to Canada with her family when she was very young. She grew up poor- her father was a truck driver who was on the road for long periods of time, and her mother was often busy taking care of Kaur’s three younger siblings. However, poetry and art were a large part of her upbringing- her father would write prose poems for her mother, and her mother loved to paint. When she was still a university student, she began posting her short prose poems onto Instagram, and gained a modest following on her social media platforms. In 2009, she began performing her poems for small events, under the simple stage name of “Kaur.” After dozens of failed submissions to publishing houses, journals, and magazines, Kaur self-published her first book of poetry, Milk and Honey, in 2014. The book was a massive success, and later re-published by Andrews McMeel- one of the leading poetry publishers in America. Three years later, in 2017, Kaur released The Sun and her Flowers. It was an even greater success than Milk and Honey, garnering Kaur millions of dollars in book sales and millions of new followers across her social media platforms. In November 2020, Kaur released her third book- Home Body. The book became one of the bestselling books of the year.

Kaur’s work deeply resonated with me personally. In her writing, she discusses prominent themes in today’s world. She succinctly and beautifully captures the niche feelings of growing up an immigrant in a new country, in a new world- especially as a young girl. She also masterfully dissects sensitive topics such as those of sexual violence, and the politicization/sexualization of women’s bodies in today’s society. Her writing is simple, beautiful, and therapeutic to read. They are truly incredible dissertations on everything from the fallacies of love to the difficulties of family to the oscillating pendulum of self-love and self-hate that people often have with their bodies. I would recommend her work to everyone!

-Vaidehi B.

All three books mentioned above contain some sexual themes that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is available for checkout from Mission Viejo Library. Milk and Honey and Home Body can both be downloaded for free on Overdrive.

Poem of the Day: Mirror

“Mirror” by Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poems. Plath’s writing style is calm and matter of fact, but the poem is still filled with beautiful symbolism and imagery. Read it below!

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Antiques Atlas - A Dainty French Rococo Oval Gilt Wall Mirror

To me, this poem symbolizes a fear of aging and death. It is told from the perspective of a cold and objective mirror- whose owner looks into it constantly, and is constantly horrified by what she sees there. However, the mirror is not completely objective- it only reflects physicality, so the owner does not gain a true sense of themselves when looking into it. The poem beautifully describes the passage of time- the mirror details how it has witnessed the woman that is its owner pass through childhood and into adulthood, becoming more and more horrified by her age. Plath uses the descriptor “a terrible fish” to show how the idea of mortality horrifies the woman. Plath also tackles themes of feminism in this poem- youth and beauty are very valued in a patriarchal society, and women are expected to conform to very strict beauty standards.

-Vaidehi B.

Mooreville High

Sebastian Elizarraras

Sunday afternoon was a warm relief
We wanted to hold on stubbornly to that last minute
Instead of living the ones to come
Only seeing the most painful parts of the week ahead
Slamming lockers on a Monday, trying-
To summon up the will to believe that it gets better
But was it really that bad after all?

Summer’s end meant midnight reunions on the track
Still rubber permeating the air in the heat of august
Friday night rumors and tailgate daydreams,
Parties with the rich kids and stargazing in the backseat
Peering over the hedges on the football field,
We popped confetti and shouted “go team!” 
But loved the moment we shared more than them

The one winter snow fell on our little town
Prom in the gym that year was so beautiful,
Dancing lovers nestled under a flakey powder blanket,
Watched as the disco balls made stars of the spotlights
They highlighted the love affair, we traded envy for laughter
Fruit punch sometimes stings or leaves stains
But we drove out in our gray sedans and felt like royalty

We’d hide by heaters at the Barnes Crossing mall,
Ride the carousel til we were chased out by security
If the school staff had been careless, there was a small chance,
We could sneak into the theater and stare up at the light fixtures,
Didn’t worry that much about making it back home
Breakfast at the coffee house, lunch at the diner downtown
Staring up by the bleachers when the evening sky rose

I won’t hold on to what I won’t miss
But I’ll certainly miss skipping service at the Baptist
Fast friends, and young love, the pain of growing up too fast,
Every day we drove by the river singing made it worth it
Worn souls, the cruel cold, friendship lasts until the bracelet breaks
Our hearts can only carry the fire of youth for a little while
So I’ll leave our innocence and beautiful ignorance here on the page, 
So that they may fade more slowly

Enchantment

Enchantment

A kaleidoscope of butterflies beat

Their wings against a cage of ribs

Their wings heavy

Yet heart so light

As it implodes in sheer joy

Spreading into the chest like fireworks

Happiness the sparks

Chest the canvas of the dark sky

-Aisha E.

Original Poem: “In a Few Days”

In a few days
the world stops looking less blue.
Sooner or later
there’s bound to be something new.

In a few days
the clouds above my head will lift.
As eventually as forever
my meaning will sensibly shift.

In a few days
I’ll fall asleep in complete dark.
A night without noise
from the purple and invisible spark.

In a few days
things will get better.
Because a few can mean soon,
or reach as close as possible to never.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein, or perhaps more famously known as “The dude who wrote The Giving Tree” has actually written many stories alongside works of poetry; “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is one of those pieces of poetry. 

This collection of poems features works such as “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too”, “Hug O’War”, “For Sale”, “Sick”, “Me and My Giant” and “Hat”.  These poems are generally short, whimsical, and full of wit.  They are fun to read to kids, to dogs, to parents, to grandparents, or to yourself.  The poems are often satirical.  One such poem is called “The Land of Happy”. 

In this poem Silverstein tells of a place where everyone is always happy, then ends it with saying how plain that would be (Silverstein, 143).  Another is “Forgotten Language” in which Silverstein laments the loss of human connection to nature (Silverstein, 149).  All in all, this is a fun collection of poems for anyone looking for something to read before going to bed or for something to read anytime.

-Ainsley H

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: 9780451419170 ...

Leaves of Grass is a collection of romantic poems with more than 300 poems. The collection of Leaves of Grass is the representative work of the American poet Walt Whitman and the first collection of poetry with the national style in the history of American literature. It has created a generation of poetry style and has had a great impact on American poetry.

Leaves of Grass also has a major innovation in artistic form, the poet broke the long-standing format of American poetry and created a “free style” poetry form. In terms of the structure of the poem, the poet adopts a large number of forms such as refrain, row, long sentence and parallel structure. Whitman also resorted to the usage of symbols and metaphors. The collection is characterized by colloquialism, with a rich expressive force and eloquent style. The poetry is sincere and fervent. The style is bold and fresh, making one one feel sick after reading it.

Leaves of Grass plays a very important role in the history of American poetry and even in the history of literature. It is a world-renowned masterpiece that ushered in a new era of American national poetry and its influence on even the English language as a whole can be described as revolutionary. Whitman’s collection of leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 with only twelve poems. By the time of his death, the last edition contained nearly four hundred poems. He named his collection Leaves of Grass because they represented the most ordinary Americans at the bottom of our society.

-Coreen C.

Chamber Music by James Joyce

Chamber Music - Kindle edition by James Joyce. Literature & Fiction Kindle  eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Joyce started out as a poet. Chamber Music was his first work. Critics seem to have reached a final conclusion on it, such as the traditionality of the whole poem, traditional meter and rhyme, traditional image structure and so on. The musicality of the poetry is also widely talked about by critics. This was due to Joyce’s musical. According to the poet himself, every poem can be put to music. The style of the poem follows the romantic style of the 19th century, but it is not without sentimentality. There is also the integrity of the content, that is, the evolution of love and the journey of the soul, two threads that go hand in hand, complement each other, and constitute the emotional tone of the whole collection. And the poetry is stylistically very different from Joyce’s novels such as Ulysses. It is not unreasonable to point out that there is only one voice throughout the thirty-six poems.

For in the reader’s ears the hero is always pouring out his heart to his sweetheart, from infatuation, marriage proposals, happy conjunctions, to a change of heart, treachery, and, at last, solitary and drifting away. But we don’t hear the hero’s voice at the beginning, which would be too abrupt and leave the reader wondering if the hero is lyrically barking up the wrong tree. In other words, a stage should be set for the protagonist to perform first. Chamber Music is about the love story and mind journey of the hero, mainly told by his voice. In other words, the emotional experience between the male protagonist and the heroine is presented to the reader through the consciousness of the hero, that is, the dramatic expression of the emotional experience between them.

Broken Hearted

Broken Hearted

T’was impeccable, yet warped,

Repetitive, yet newfangled regularly.

Memories’ sadness is in presence,

Though, only evoked when the spirit wishes.

‘Tis a fight,

Where “moving on” is defined often,

“Attachment” is, too.

Seated alone, pondering,

How can this be overcome?

Knowledge from the wise is even proven insufficient.

Man’s best companion can’t even seek a smile,

Nor can nature’s sweetest creations.

How can this be overcome?

They say denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then acceptance,

None apply.
This feeling is unutterable,

One I swear is mine and mine only.

How can this be overcome?

Like a Satan in one’s path,

Only the stupid’s willpower could see hope.

Where the only solution is to advance,

Or seize agonizing consequences.

Rifle in hand,

Willpower in the other.

Ambition, clout, and courage tattooed on one’s shoulder,

The great battle begins.

Pushing away thoughts,

Urges set aside.

No peeking,

No asking,

No quitting.

It’s done!

Finally, ready to move on,

Acceptance becomes clear.

Pride falls,

Ache does, too.

I’ve done it,

Finally, moved on.

-Izzy G., 8th Grade